German coalition would create legal right to fast internet: Bild

BERLIN (Reuters) - People in Germany will acquire a legal right to fast internet under a proposed coalition between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and the Social Democrats (SPD), the man expected to become Merkel’s top aide said in remarks published on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO - Ethernet cables used for internet connections are pictured in a Berlin office, August 20, 2014. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

The SPD and conservatives have agreed that if they take power together, they want to ensure that all regions have access to high-speed internet by 2025.

But Helge Braun, designated chancellery chief under the planned coalition, said in an interview with mass-selling Bild newspaper that a ‘grand coalition’ would create the legal framework for people to have a right to fast internet.

“Fast internet is just as important as the supply of gas, water and electricity and that’s why this issue is a top priority for the chancellor,” Helge was quoted as saying.

“There will be a legal entitlement to fast internet in future,” he said, adding that he expected the federal government and industry to spend at least 100 billion euros on expanding broadband by 2025.

The chancellery chief is the chancellor’s top assistant, running the chancellery and ensuring cooperation between the ministries.

Germany ranks 28th out of 32 countries in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s league table of access to fast internet.

The SPD’s members still have the chance to veto the ‘grand coalition’ deal and the result of a ballot of the SPD’s roughly 464,000 members is due on Sunday.

Braun also said the process of asylum applications needed to be sped up and deportations made easier.

More than a million migrants have arrived in Germany since mid-2015, many of them fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere.

“So that deportations function smoothly, we need more administrative judges and we need to make it easier to put people in pre-departure custody,” he said. “We also need more agreements with the countries of origin for them to take people back.”

Reporting by Michelle Martin, Editing by William Maclean